Disputes within the workplace may arise between an employer and employees. It is such disputes that are referred to as labor disputes. The legal regime contemplates such disputes and goes as far as providing mechanisms for their resolution. This is perhaps in appreciation of the role of the law in solving economic, as well as social problems for the overall benefit of the citizenry(August, Mayer, & Bixby, 2012). Terms and conditions of employment may be the subject of labor disputes. The focus of this discourse is to illuminate the appropriate roles that the management should discharge before, during and after labor disputes. In so doing, we also consider the policy standards set by the International Labor Organization regarding the subject matter.
Roles of the Management before Disputes
The management can take appropriate measures to ensure that disputes are averted at the workplace. Prevention of disputes can be achieved through enhancing workplace cooperation. Workplace cooperation is said to be the arrangements for establishing and improving the relations between the management and employees within an enterprise(International Labor Organization,, 2013, p. 176).The management should put in place modalities for interaction with the employees for instance through sharing of information, negotiations, discussions and decisions-making. These efforts for enhancing workplace cooperation can help avert disputes at the workplace.
Besides enhancing workplace cooperation management, should also resolve complaints raised by workers. This has the effect of preventing the complaints from growing into larger disputes between management and workers. Management should ensure that complaints are resolved in a reasonable time (MacIntyre, 2010).
This paper contends that the role of the management before labor disputes refer to the preventive actions that the management should undertake to avoid the disputes. Thus, management should ensure that all possible causes of conflict are addressed. For instance, management should improve decision-making at all level in the workplace. This entails involving employees in decision-making especially in matters affecting them. The working environment and conditions should be improved (Collins, 2012). In many labor disputes, the employees have often cited poor working conditions as a cause of the dispute. It is imperative to note that the International Labor Organization encourages voluntary agreements between employers and workers (International Labor Organisation, 1952). Such voluntary agreements are encouraged in the ambit of matters that do not fall within the scope collective bargaining machinery.
Moreover, the International Labor Organization enjoins employers and their organizations as well as workers and their organizations to recognize the importance of creating a climate of mutual understanding and confidence within the workplace (International Labor Organization, 1967). In the aforesaid Recommendation the management also has the task of ensuring that the environment created is favorable both to the efficiency of the undertaking and the aspirations of the workers within the undertaking (MacIntyre, 2010). Further, the International Labor Organization endorses that dissemination and exchange of information should be, as far as possible, complete and objective. The impetus of Recommendation No. 129 is a suggestion for the establishment of an effective communication policy which would enable consultation and dissemination of information in the undertaking. The elements of such a communications policy have also been set out. It is noteworthy that the management has the leading role in putting in place the modalities for the communications policy.
Roles of the Management during Labor Disputes
When disputes occur at the workplace, the management has an indispensable role to participate in the resolution of the conflict. The approaches to settling of labor disputes may either be voluntary, for instance based on consent, or mandatory, for instance on the basis of the legal requirement. Collective bargaining agreements present an avenue for participation of the management in settling the labor disputes (Luizzo, 2011). Collective bargaining agreements are arrived at after negotiation between parties from the employers’ side and the workers’ side. They are legally binding on the management and the employees. In the case the organization has no collective bargaining agreement, the management and the workers can commence the process of establishing a collective bargaining agreement for the workplace.
The International Labor Organization further acknowledges the use of free and voluntary collective agreements for the regulation of terms and conditions of employment (International Labor Organization, 1949). Additionally, the International Labor Organizations set out the scope of collective bargaining. ILO posits that collective bargaining extends to negotiations concerning determination of work conditions and terms of employment; relations between employers and workers; relations between employers or their organizations and workers’ organizations)(International Labor Organization, 1981).
Besides, during a dispute the management should ensure that the grievances of the workers are heard. The management should give the workers the opportunity to present their complaints. One way of doing so is through holding meetings with the workers. Other means may include receiving the written complaints from the workers or their organization, as well as holding meetings with the workers’ representatives. Upon receiving the grievances of the workers; the management should provide a written statement of the cause of action that would be taken to deal with the complaints raised. The decision of the management should not be final (August, Mayer, & Bixby, 2012). The workers should be afforded an opportunity to appeal against the decision of the management.
The labor dispute may also be resolved through the court process. However, case law point that before such matters are brought to court the internal procedure of the employees’ union should be exhausted as was held in the case of Chapman v UAW Local 1005 (2012).When the matter is filed before a court or tribunal, the management has a duty to appear before the court or tribunal in charge of handling the dispute whenever it is required to do so. Appearing before the tribunal or the court may be required for purposes of giving evidence or challenging the evidence adduced by the opposite party in the suit. The management also has a role of obtaining its legal representation before the tribunal or court for purposes of the proceedings concerning the dispute. There are circumstances where a dispute may be caused by the worker’ breach of their contract. In such circumstances, the management may
Roles of the Management after Labor Disputes
Whenever the management issues a decision on how it would handle the issues that are the subject of the dispute, they would be bound to implement those decisions so as to avoid any further dispute on the same issues. A dispute may be resolved by means of collective bargain agreements. The collective bargaining agreement is binding on both parties. In such circumstances, the management has a duty to carry out its obligations under the collective agreement (MacIntyre, 2010). A violation of the collective bargain agreement can be a ground to sue the management.
Labor disputes are sometimes handled in the courts. The management and the workers may be the parties in the suit. Each of the parties has a duty to carry out the obligations imposed by the decision of the court or judicial body established to handle the disputes.
After a dispute, the management should uphold the rights of the workers(Collins, 2012). The workers should not be discriminated against on the basis of having been involved in the dispute. Moreover, the management should ensure that measures are put in place to avert future disputes by addressing the concerns raised during the dispute.
August, R., Mayer, D., & Bixby, M. (2012). International Business Law: Text, Cases, and Readings. New York: Pearson Education, Limited.
Collins, H. (2012). Employment Law. New York: Oxford University Press.
International Labor Organisation. (1952). Recommendation No. 94 Concerning Consultation and Cooperation between Employers and Workers at the Level of the Undertaking.
International Labor Organization. (1949). Convention No. 98 concerning the Application of Principles of the Right to Organize and to Bargain Collectively.
International Labor Organization. (1967). Recommendation No. 129 concerning Communications between Management and Workers within the Undertaking.
International Labor Organization. (1981). Convention No. 154 concerning the Promotion of Collective Bargaining.
International Labor Organization,. (2013). Labor Dispute Dispute Systems Guideline for Improved Performance. Turin: International Labor Organization.
Luizzo, A. (2011). Essentials of Business Law. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.
MacIntyre, E. (2010). Essentials of Business Law. New York: Pearson Education.